U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, who whose North Country district stretches from the Capital Region to the Canadian border, on Monday said she planned to join a Republican effort to contest the results of the presidential election in Congress on Wednesday.
Stefanik, R-Saratoga, outlined her reasoning in a short video posted online Monday morning, which claimed “unprecedented voting irregularities … and a fundamental lack of ballot security.” But Stefanik did not cite specific allegations or evidence of fraud or identify which states’ electors she planned to object to. In fact, Trump’s own attorney general at the time of the election, Williams Barr, who is viewed as a stalwart backer of Trump, said there was no wide-spread fraud and the few suspected cases of fraud would not have an effect on the outcome.
Scores of Republican House members and at least a dozen senators have said they will object to presidential electors from some states on Wednesday when Congress meets for the final step in formalizing Joe Biden’s victory. The process of confirming the election results — counting the electors as certified by each of the 50 states — is typically a formality, but it has become an issue this year as President Donald Trump has tried unsuccessfully to make his case in U.S. courts.
Trump has sought to discredit the election results over the past two months, claiming he won based on unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in about a half-dozen states that made the critical difference in the election. Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada have all certified results in favor of Biden and the Electoral College electors last month solidified those results.
Other Republican senators and Democrats have attacked the plan to object to electors as a dangerous effort to overturn a democratic election. Rep. John Katko, a Republican who represents a district neighboring Stefanik’s district, on Monday said he would not join the objections of fellow Republicans and warned that efforts to overturn the election results threatened American democracy.
“It is not the role of Congress to usurp the will of the people and the Electoral College,” Katko said in the statement. “To do so would irrevocably alter our democracy and electoral process. We must certify our nation’s election results.”
Stefanik, who also joined a lawsuit in Supreme Court arguing the decisive states’ elections were illegitimate, in her video Monday said she had “serious questions” about the presidential election, citing unspecified irregularities and “unconstitutional overreach” by state officials and judges. The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.
She also alluded to the many millions of Americans who have indicated they think the election is in question, following a strategy of other Republican officials who in recent days have pointed to constituent concerns as justifying their objections, after Trump spent weeks fueling those concerns with baseless claims of fraud. Stefanik said tens of thousands of people across the country have reached out to her in recent weeks.
“The most precious foundation and covenant of our republic is the right to vote, and consequently, the faith in the sanctity of our nation’s free and fair elections,” she said. “I am committed to restoring the faith of the American people in our elections that they are free, fair, secure, and according to the United States Constitution.”
Jay Jacobs, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, on Monday called for Stefanik’s resignation, noting it was the first time in nearly 20 years as the state party chairman he had done so. In a statement released Monday afternoon, Jacobs said Stefanik “has thrown in her lot with those colleagues who seek to violate their constitutional oath to ‘protect and defend’ the Constitution by seeking to overthrow the legitimately elected incoming president of the United States.”
Jacobs suggested Stefanik’s objections were disingenuous and said she knew there were not “serious questions” about the validity of November’s election.
“Her statement alleging that she is seeking to defend democracy is a sham — and she knows it,” Jacobs said. “By her own words, she has discredited the office that she holds, has violated the oath that she has taken and has embarrassed the district and entire state that she purports to serve.”